Road To 2016
Jan Van Eijden pleased with new look sprint squad
Published: 9 November 2012
Report: Scott Hobro | Video: Simon Powers
Following inductions for the 2012/13 Olympic Performance Programmes, British Cycling's Olympic Podium Programme track sprint coach Jan Van Eijden says he is pleased with the mixture of athletes and the harmony within the team as they begin a fresh Olympic cycle.
Van Eijden, a two-time world champion himself in the individual and team sprint disciplines, added that whilst the season after a Games is often a transitional one, the team ‘wants to come home and have world champions’ from next year’s championships in Minsk, Belarus.
With Victoria Pendleton’s retirement and Sir Chris Hoy taking a break from the track, a void has been left. Fresh faces in the British Cycling Olympic Academy such as Matt Rotherham and Rosie Blount mean the sprint line-up has a new look – made more so by two-time Olympic champion Ed Clancy training with the group after switching from the team pursuit to the team sprint at the Glasgow Track World Cup.
“Every time after an Olympic cycle there is a reshuffle,” said Van Eijden, who has been impressed with the spirit and attitude on display within the group. “This time after the departure of Vicky and at the moment Chris, it’s two of our major players leaving the field.
“We’ve got a good mixture now, some younger ones with John Paul and Matt Rotherham coming up to the Olympic Academy and then at the top we’ve got Jason Kenny who is still only 24, but is the oldest from the Olympic guys. Then you have Matt Crampton who is an established rider, Ross Edgar and then Ed Clancy coming from the endurance squad - it’s a really nice mixture in that group.
“Everyone is trying their best and hoping their teammates do well so from that point of view it’s a very nice atmosphere down at the track at the moment.”
Current UCI regulations allow only one spot per nation in each of the keirin and individual sprint events at the Olympics. Furthermore, limited competition time on offer means the battle for places is high with a myriad of options for the coaching staff to consider. In spite of the stakes, Van Eijden is keen for supportive environment for riders to train in.
“It’s very important because you of spend a lot of time together, training every day, travelling to training camps,” Van Eijden said.
“You don’t need to love each other but I think it helps if you like each other. There’s only one spot in the sprint and keirin. There are five, six, seven, eight people down there who would like to have that spot and you do compete against each other. Nevertheless it is nice if you have a good atmosphere down there and you can still talk to each other.”
With the European track championships and Cali instalment of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup complete, trips to Glasgow and Aguascalientes, Mexico remain, before the world championship season finale in Minsk, Belarus.
So far the onus has been placed on younger riders who have been handed competition time with most Olympians rested, but Van Eijden rebuffed any notion that the campaign was purely experimental adding that winning world championships was still a target.
“It’s a bit of a funny season because the Olympic Games were finished early August and the next season is coming around very, very quickly,” he said.
“For those guys who did the Olympics it was a very long season from the season before. Jason Kenny only had three weeks off, some of the other nations, their top guys had nearly two months off.
“From a rider point of view they want to do well in Glasgow and as a team and a coach you always want to go to a competition and do well, you don’t want to get beat.
“The worlds from a team sprint point of view, from individual points of view; we want to come home and have world champions. That’s what pushes us as coaches and also the riders - even though it’s a short and condensed season with a very short preparation we are still looking out and wanting to manifest our position in the world of sprinting.”